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THE SITUATION ROOM
Business Leaders vs. Pres. Obama; Your Health at Risk; BP's Cap On The Gulf Well
Aired July 17, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Hope and caution after the oil gusher in the Gulf was sealed off for the first time. Is the worst over for the region and for the Obama administration?
Also debate over whether there is racism in the Tea Party movement. After the NAACP's bombshell allegation, a top Tea Party spokesman joins us to face off with contributor Roland Martin.
And it could be a ticking time bomb, inside medicine many Americans use everyday. Painkillers to antibiotics, made in China, and not subject to tough inspection in this country.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It was a critical and much anticipated moment in that massive Gulf oil disaster. This week, for the first time in nearly three months, BP was able to stop the oil from leaking, at least temporarily. But what will it all mean for President Obama who's been widely criticized for his handling of this crisis? I spoke about that and more with CNN Political Analyst Gloria Borger and David Gergen, as well as with Democratic Congressman Ed Markey.
BLITZER: David, the White House right now-and you served four presidents-has to be very careful and cautious. The president has been. Other White House officials, behind the scenes, they can't start uncorking champagne bottles yet.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. No, Wolf. There's no sense over there, I was there earlier today. There is a relief that this was coming, but no one wants to send any bouquets to BP. There's a pervasive sense in this country that had it not been for the recklessness of BP this spill never would have happened. It would have been clean stopped a long time ago, and the people and the wildlife in the Gulf would not be suffering. And the president has paid a price in the process.
BLITZER: The president certainly has suffered a great deal, politically, as a result of these three months.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You remember during this crisis, which is now almost fully three months, that people started comparing Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter during the hostage crisis. And there was a question about how competent Barack Obama was, or if he was competent, how compassionate Barack Obama is. And now he's got a political fight on his hands about a moratorium on drilling deep water wells. He wants to have a moratorium and there are lots of folks on the Gulf who don't want to. This has created a whole new set of political issues for this president. That didn't have to appear.
BLITZER: There was an article that was just written on Politico, on the website, John Harrison, Jim VandeHei, a very smart article, I don't know if you read it. Let me read to you a couple of lines from there, because I think it's incisive.
"Rep. Ed Markey, (D-MA.), beat his chest to force BP to make public the footage of gushing oil from an underwater camera. Democrats celebrated that as a victory for public accountability. But it was actually a painful defeat for Obama. The camera produced an indelible image played 24/7 on cable that highlighted how ineffective Obama was for two months in stopping this catastrophe."
GERGEN: It was ironic. I don't think the White House wanted the camera there. It is not that they were all for transparency, but it was one of these unintended consequences of this thing.
BLITZER: Be careful what you are wishing.
GERGEN: Here on the very day, they have gotten a significant piece of legislation through, historic in many ways, in the financial regulation, biggest piece of financial regulation since the Great Depression and it is completely eclipsed now, by this other story. So they aren't having distractions. I just disagree about one thing.
BORGER: And even success, this is a story of success.
GERGEN: I agree, but they're not going to get much credit for it.
GERGEN: In a sense, Wolf, they don't think that the end of this spill is going to turn things around for them. It's really going to be jobs.
BLITZER: Jobs, jobs, and jobs. We're going to be speaking by the way, shortly with Congressman Markey. But the article, John Harris and Jim VandeHei, this is a fair point, that, you know what, the constant images and television is full of images, as we know, this sort of backfired on the Democrats.
BORGER: It totally backfired on the Democrats, and the problem this White House is trying to deal with right now, is that the more that President Obama seems to get done, the less credit he gets, because these are all financial issues, the issue of our time right now is the economy and the deficit, for better or worse. He's perceived in a way that they did not envision for him to be perceived. They envisioned him to be a centrist, and because of these economic issues now, he's being looked at as somebody on the left side of the spectrum.
BLITZER: And you know, the point that he was as some were comparing him to Jimmy Carter during the hostage crisis.
BLITZER: Others were comparing, David, to George. W. Bush during the Katrina crisis.
GERGEN: That's right. He's taken a lot of hits but I must say, Wolf, I have some sympathy with the White House, some people say their political operations and their communications operations is not working. I was there working for Ronald Reagan, as you recall, during the '81, '82, when we went through recession. When you go through hard times, I don't care what message you send out of the White House, the president still gets a lot of blame. They have got to come out on this.
BLITZER: Hold on for a moment, because Congressman Markey is joining us now. And I want you to join in the questioning.
Congressman, Gloria Borger and David Gergen are here, they each have a question they'd like to ask.
BORGER: Congressman, can I ask you, going forward, what does the administration have to do, what do Democrats have to do, in terms of regulating deepwater drilling?
REP. EDWARD MARKEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We are going to pass very strong legislation that will ensure that there are protections that guarantee that we not again see blowout preventers, that don't work. That we have oil companies that do not have spill response plans, that are in place, that can respond rapidly in the event that there is an accident.
And that there will be liability for these companies, if in fact something does occur. That whistle blower protection be built into the law to ensure that any one of these workers that knows that there's a problem, will not be punished by the companies that they work for. We know that they existed on this well, but there was great fear. So, all of this will have to be put in place. We will be giving every member of the House and Senate an opportunity to vote on that kind of safety legislation in the next several weeks.
GERGEN: As you know, Congressman, the president and the administration got some blame here for being too slow to react. Will Congress revisit the command and control structure not only for preparation for natural disasters, but for the execution and the management of these disasters?
MARKEY: Absolutely. The president has named Ray Mabus (ph), the secretary of the Navy and former governor of Mississippi to be in charge of the reconstruction of the Gulf. But we're also going to have to ensure that we go back and revisit this MMS. Go back and revisit this agency that should have been a watchdog, but instead was a lap dog. This was a ticking time bomb, that was set several years ago, back during the Bush administration, that continued forward, much like the derivatives and the financial instruments that were not properly regulated, that then exploded over the last year.
We have to make sure that there was a much better command and control system put in place to make sure that we never see an occurrence like this again.
BLITZER: And Congressman, let me get your reaction to what Politico wrote about you today. John Harris and Jim VandeHei, writing, let me read it in case you didn't hear what I read earlier. "Representative Edward Markey, beat his chest to force BP to make public the of gushing oil from an underwater camera. Democrats celebrated that as a victory for public accountability. But it was actually a painful defeat for Obama, the camera produced an indelible image played 24/7 on cable, that highlighted how ineffectual Obama was for two months in stopping this catastrophe."
Do you agree with that assessment?
MARKEY: I do not agree with that assessment. I forced BP to put up the spill cam so that BP could not continue to hide behind the low balling of this problem, that they had been engaging in up until that point. In fact the president, detailed-not just Admiral Allen, but also the Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Marcia McNutt, who runs the United States Geological Service, to come in to make sure that BP did not have autonomy in making these decisions. It was their equipment that we needed in order to solve this problem, but the discretion could no longer be left with them. I think the president did act as the commander in chief, here, but under very difficult circumstances, where like the financial crisis, it was something that was created by an earlier administration, that exploded on his duty, on his watch.
But I think ultimately when people look back on election day, if this well is finally capped, that they will see that he did the job. And we will, in fact, be rewarded rather than punished, especially after we have an energy bill on the House and Senate floor that will give Republicans an opportunity to vote on renewable energy, on plug-in hybrids, on other energy technologies that will take us away from this energy agenda, but we have been living with for the last generation.
BLITZER: But Congressman, he did have more than a year to clean up MMS, at the Department of Interior, under his watch and apparently nothing happened during that first year that he was president to get the job done.
MARKEY: Again, there was a latent problem at this agency, but I do believe the president did respond in a way that ultimately will be viewed by the public as one that took command of this problem, ensured that BP, a private corporation, that turned a blind eye to all the safety warnings that were there, to ensure that this problem was solved. And then put in place a recovery program for the people in the Gulf.
I think Ken Feinberg and Secretary Mabus (ph), and others, all represent part of that solution. That ultimately will be seen as a victory for President Obama.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: A new warning that the recovery is petering out, should Democrats stop trying to pin the blame on former President George W. Bush? James Carville and Bill Bennett, they're here to face off on that.
And from computers to the power grid, our plugged in nation is vulnerable. But a system to prevent cyber attacks my come with a cost, an invasion of Americans' privacy.
BLITZER: Let's get right to our "Strategy Session". Joining us are CNN political contributors, the Democratic strategist James Carville, and Bill Bennett, the national radio talk show host.
Guys, thanks very much for coming in.
James, first to you, the Federal Reserve, they released the minutes from their most recent meeting today, very dismal economic news. They say the economic recovery, if in fact there was a recovery is petering out, not going where it should be. Unemployment is going to range where it is, it is going to continue where it is right now, nearly 10 percent. Pretty dismal political ramifications for the Democrats as a result of this.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Wolf, I'm holding a chart that shows job loss and job growth, and the red, right at the bottom, that is the last year of the Bush administration. This is when President Obama took office. You can see it's almost a perfect V.
Now, is this perfect? No. Is this what we want? No, this is very typical, economists will tell you, in the aftermath of a financial crisis. You are going to have slow growth. And I think the administration is trying. Could they do better? Of course, but they're doing a lot better than the previous administration that is obvious to anybody. You know there has been more private sector jobs, could be more private sector jobs created this year, under President Obama than an entire eight years under President Bush.
Democrats need to start making that point while acknowledging the fact that more needs to be done, and that this thing is not going as well as it could. But this is typical of a post-financial crisis that you have this kind of growth.
BLITZER: Now, what about that, Bill?
BILL BENNETT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We have a little derby going on when the Democrats asked questions about this, how many seconds does it take before he says Bush? That was I think three seconds. It may be better than it seems to people, it may be better than it feels to people, it may be better than what the numbers are, but I don't think so. I wouldn't want to take from James, that history he made in '92, it's the economy stupid. I don't mean James is, it's what James said back then. And it is the economy now. And they're in trouble and they know they're in trouble. The promises Barack Obama made, not Bush, the promises Barack Obama made, get the stimulus, get this other stuff going, things will be a lot better. We'll never see 9.5 percent, we're there.
BLITZER: But despite those numbers in the chart you have, James, when you ask the American people is the country moving on the right track or the wrong track, most people think the country is moving on the wrong track. And you are a political analyst, you know that's a key indicator.
CARVILLE: Look, you're right, it's not going well, it's a post- financial crisis, our wars are not going well. You look at the situation in the Gulf, you know, I don't blame you, but these are the things-and by the way, if you ask, as ABC did, who do you think is better on the economy, the Democrats or the Republicans, after all this, by an 8-point margin, people still think the Democrats are better.
BLITZER: That's a fair point.
BENNETT: I suspect they'll increase their majority this November, don't you think? I don't think so. Again, it is up against reality. Take the Census jobs out of there. Take those temporary jobs out of there, James.
CARVILLE: But these are private sector jobs. These are not government jobs. These are private sector jobs. If you look at the thing, these are private sector jobs. We're not counting school teachers and policemen and firemen that apparently conservatives don't think actually jobs mean anything. We do, but we don't put these in there, this is a private sector chart.
BENNETT: Well, as you can-
CARVILLE: A private sector chart.
BENNETT: As you can tell from the tone, there's a lot of nervousness about what's going on in the country on the part of Democrats and their right to be. They said things would get better, a lot better, things are not getting a lot better.
BLITZER: Let me just switch gears, very briefly, Sharron Angle, she's challenging Harry Reid, James, in Nevada for the Senate. She gave an interview to David Brody of the Christian News Service and she made this point. And I want you to tell me as a political analyst, if she has a point, if she's right. Because she has been criticized for not doing national news media interviews, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE, (R) NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: People say that I went dark, I didn't. I have done over 60 interviews, I quit counting a couple of weeks ago. But the whole point of an interview is to use it like they say, earned media, to earn something with it. And I'm not going to earn anything from people who are there to badger me and batter, use my words to batter me with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: She did it that with a Christian Broadcasting Network, I should say.
Does she have a point, James, in saying, you know what, I'll do interviews in Nevada, with conservative talk shows and others. But I have nothing to gain by going on "Meet the Press," for example?
CARVILLE: Look, she won't talk to Nevada TV stations, it's not just "Meet The Press."
BLITZER: She did an interview with John Ralston in Nevada, he's a major television interviewer there.
CARVILLE And that's it. And that is only-she said that if Harry Reid wins, then they may have to resort to Second Amendment remedies. I don't think she has to answer what she means by Second Amendment remedies. Again, she criticized Harry Reid for intervening on behalf of City Center, saying something like-it is an $8-billion project, she said it's not the job of the United States senator to try to help create jobs. If I was her, I don't blame her, I wouldn't go on anything either, if her thing didn't go that well with John Ralston.
BLITZER: All right.
CARVILLE: She's not going to go-those people don't care that she goes on us.
BLITZER: We got to leave it there, unfortunately. But we'll continue this conversation, guys, thanks very much.
Bill, I know you want to say something, but save it for the next time. You got ten seconds, say it right now.
BENNETT: Yeah, look, she talked to him. She wants to talk to Wolf Blitzer, she shouldn't talk to people who are out to cut her head off. Fair minded people, fine, people who are out to do a hatchet job on her, no.
BLITZER: We have invited her several times so far.
BENNETT: Good, hope she comes.
BLITZER: We have to go. Hope she comes by as well. I will do a fair interview with her.
BENNETT: I will urge her.
BLITZER: Thank you, Bill. Thanks, James.
A new poll shows Senator Harry Reid has gained some ground against his Republican challenger Sharron Angle, after portraying her has too extreme, in a series of TV ads. The Mason-Dixon survey of likely Nevada voters shows Reid with 44 percent, Angle at 37 percent. It is Reid's best showing in the poll this year. He and Angle had been locked in a dead heat for months. Reid's attacks on Angle have cost the Tea Party favorite support among every voter group, according to this latest poll.
Business leaders lashing out at President Obama; one calls his policies an attack on free enterprise, one of the president's top economic advisors is here to respond.
Plus, a controversial new shield against cyber attacks, why it's raising new privacy concerns.
BLITZER: Imagine if key elements of the country's infrastructure were infiltrated and rendered useless by cyber terrorists. Defenses against such attacks may be another cause for some concern. CNN's Brian Todd takes a closer look.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They power our houses, steer our planes, they're also soft targets, vulnerable to cyber attacks. Now word that the computers controlling America's power grids, air traffic control systems, and possibly nuclear power plants are getting a new protective shield called Perfect Citizen.
It's already controversial, because the National Security Agency, the eavesdropping arm of U.S. intelligence, is involved in it and much of it is classified. The NSA wouldn't give us details on how the program will work, neither would Raytheon, the defense contractor, which according to "The Wall Street Journal", got a big contract for the project.
I spoke with Jim Lewis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. As part of his research, Lewis has been in contact with government officials who know about the cyber shield project.
(On camera): What do we know about this perfect citizen program and what it hopes to accomplish?
JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INT'L. STUDIES: The Department of Defense has been concerned for more than a year about the problems that the U.S. has been having in cyberspace, both on DOD networks, but also against critical infrastructure. And there's a real fear that some of our foreign opponents had the ability to maybe attack us through this, to hurt DOD. And so there's a real interest in making DOD better able to operate in cyberspace and this is one of the initiatives that the department is making to do that.
TODD (on camera): Lewis and other experts say U.S. intelligent officials are getting more and more concerned that Chinese and Russian operatives are surveilling computer systems that control places like this, power plants, and other key parts of America's infrastructure.
(Voice over): Contacted by CNN, an official at the Chinese embassy in Washington called that notion ridiculous, unwarranted. And said in a statement, "We want to see no more of such allegations of China targeting U.S. infrastructure by using through the Internet." An officials at the Russian embassy would not comment.
As for the Perfect Citizen project, itself, the NSA's mere involvement is creating dispute. "The Wall Street Journal" which first reported this story says in order to detect possible cyber attacks on power grids and other utilities, the NSA "would rely on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks that would be triggered by any unusual activity."
In other words, a government spy agency would be putting sensors in the computer networks of private utility companies. If that's the case, it would contradict a promise the president made last year.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our pursuit of cyber security will not include, I repeat, will not include monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.
TODD: The White House will not comment officially, but the NSA says its not contradicting what the president said. In an e-mail to CNN, an NSA spokeswoman called "The Wall Street Journal" story an inaccurate portrayal of the agency's work.
The NSA calls this a research effort and says, "It does not involve the monitoring of communications or the placement of sensors on utility company systems."
A representative for "The Wall Street Journal" told us, "The Journal" stands by its story. Even if the NSA is not monitoring the private grid, Marc Rotenberg, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, has a problem with any involvement by the NSA in private business.
(On camera): What about the argument that America's infrastructure, in some areas, is more vulnerable now than it has been for in a long time, and it needs this kind of security from government agencies.
MARC ROTENBERG, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER: We think there is a need to promote better security in the United States, certainly, but the question is whether it should be done by the government, by the private sector, or in this instance by a secretive agency that's not very accountable. We prefer a private sector-led initiative with support from a government agency that is more open, more accountable.
TODD: The NSA would not respond directly to that. But the agency did say that any suggestion that there are illegal or invasive domestic activities associated with this contract are simply not true. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: The NAACP stirs up a hornet's nest with charges of racism against the Tea Party movement. We bring you that heated debate into THE SITUATION ROOM. And later, it doesn't tell you on the bottle, but that headache medicine you're likely taking has come from a plant in China. We're taking a closer look at the health risks.
BLITZER: Lots of people including the Republican Party chairman, Sarah Palin, among others, they're all weighing in on a fiery controversy ignited by the NAACP. The organization passed a controversial resolution condemning what it portrays as rampant racism within the Tea Party movement.
BLITZER: Joining us now CNN Contributor Roland Martin and Mark Williams, a Tea Party Express spokesman.
Guys, thanks, very much for coming in.
A lot of controversy over this NAACP decision. Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP saying on Monday, Roland, "The Tea Party movement knows that there's tens of thousands of dedicated racists and ultranationalists in their ranks.
Do you agree with them? Tens of thousands of racists?
MARTIN: First and foremost, in terms of how to quantify a particular number, I don't think you can actually do that. But I will say that we have seen, we heard the stories, we have seen the evidence, we have seen folks actually carrying the signs expressing, sort of the racist language. We have had members of Congress, or one of them, the esteemed American, Congressman John Lewis, who said - clearly, what he heard, you had Congressman Andre Carson, a former police officer from Indianapolis, the city I'm in right now, who is right alongside him who heard the exact same racial epithets being hurled at him.
The point is not is the entire Tea Party racist. That is a wrong assumption. But the resolution says deal with the racist elements within the Tea Party.
BLITZER: But he also said that there were tens of thousands of dedicated racists and ultra-nationalists in their ranks. I want to give you my -
MARTIN: That was his speech -
BLITZER: That was his speech. That's right.
MARTIN: -- but that wasn't what was in the (ph) resolution. Right.
BLITZER: That was what the president of the NAACP said on Monday.
BLITZER: And let me give Mark Williams a chance to respond, because that's a hugely serious charge, Mark.
MARK WILLIAMS, TEA PARTY EXPRESS SPOKESMAN: Sure.
Well, you know, and a real mouthful coming from a guy with the - from an organization with the words "colored people" in its title. The Tea Parties are -
BLITZER: Let me interrupt you for a second. What - what does that have to do one thing with the other thing?
WILLIAMS: That's a pretty racist phrase.
MARTIN: OK, first of all, it -
WILLIAMS: I was taught as a small child to not use those terms.
But the Tea Parties themselves -
MARTIN: And you're basing your whole argument on that word?
MARTIN: Trust me, you're (INAUDIBLE) the reality of the historic nature of the organization. So, come on. Don't base your argument on that. That's weak.
WILLIAMS: And that is part of the problem. The NAACP is a bunch of old, dusty relics, trying to be relevant in the 20th century.
MARTIN: Not true.
WILLIAMS: And - and they make money off of race baiting. I mean, that - that's plain and simple.
The Tea Party Movement, however, it is not an organization. There are thousands of small groups and large groups. It's a movement based on the constitution of the United States, therefore, it is impossible to be a racist and a Tea Partier, because the constitution is all about individual rights, civil rights.
MARTIN: Oh, nonsense. Nonsense.
WILLIAMS: And what - what is - what is racist about demanding lower taxes, less intrusive government, no - no more bailouts, and - and stop the - stop the -
BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt - guys, for one second, (INAUDIBLE), before I let you respond to that, should the Tea Party, the leadership - and you're a leader in the whole Tea Party Movement, Mark. Shouldn't they be more assertive in responding when they see these ugly photos and these isolated incidents, fringe elements out there making these comparisons to - of the president of the United States and a monkey, for example? Should the leadership of the Tea Party be more assertive in disassociating and condemning of these outbursts? WILLIAMS: Well, since every Tea Partier is the Tea Party leader, there is no formal organization. That's exactly what they do. When - when these racists, along with all other descriptions of nuts, show up around the fringes of our events, which they do because we attract television cameras. Just like a ball game, hi mom.
They quickly find out that they're in the wrong room. When they - when one of those signs is spotted by our people, they usually surround that person with American flags or jazzed in (ph) flags, and what happens is after buying the mainstream media myth that they're going to find a happy home in the Tea Party, racists quickly find out that it's all about rights, and that's not what racism is about. It's about America and the ideal of equality.
BLITZER: Roland, I want you to respond, Roland, but I want you to also respond to Sarah Palin, because she said this on her Facebook page. She said the charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand.
MARTIN: Well, first of all, obviously Sarah Palin is in denial from the quantified facts there where you've had individuals making comments and having signs, and so what she is trying to do is to go all the way over by saying, oh, no, no races at all, as opposed to say what Mark has admitted to there are some folks who've actually showed up who are racists.
Now, I also see that Mark has matured in his view on this, because on this very network, on "AC 360", in September 2009, when I asked him specifically if someone had a racist sign at a Tea Party rally, would he tell them to take it down? Out of Mark's own mouth, he said no because he would not want to infringe on their First Amendment rights, and -
WILLIAMS: No, I said no because I'm - I'd be on stage in front of 10,000 people. I'm not going to stop what I'm doing to wade through the crowd.
MARTIN: Mark - Mark -
BLITZER: Hold on. Let me - let me - let Mark respond to that because -
MARTIN: Well, we have Mark on tape. So he could deny it now, but he's on tape.
BLITZER: Mark, go ahead.
WILLIAMS: I'm not going to leave a stage where I'm talking to 10,000 people to wade to the back of the crowd and find (INAUDIBLE).
MARTIN: That's not what you said. That's not what you said.
WILLIAMS: And - and I - it's not my job to police the personal beliefs of everybody in the Tea Parties.
MARTIN: But it is your job as a leader to lead.
WILLIAMS: But when - but when they - I am not a leader of anything. The Tea Party Movement is a grass roots, bottom up organization. I've been appointed (ph) a leader by the media, apparently, but everybody who goes to a Tea Party is a Tea Party leader.
Don't you get it? It's about individual and human rights. Individual rights, not group rights.
MARTIN: Mark, here's where I come from. The people who are on the stage, the folks who organize it, they are assuming a leadership position.
The reality is this, Wolf - and here's why I think, Wolf, the Tea Party people are making a mistake. There are examples where other Tea Party leaders, Mark wants to deny it, where they have said you're not going to sit here and pollute our situation with your racism. What the Tea Party folks should be saying in response to the NAACP is that we have actually done that.
And, in the future, if there are going to people who bring racism, they are not welcome at our rally.
BLITZER: All right. Mark, I'll be giving the last -
BLITZER: : I'll give you the last word, Mark. Go ahead.
WILLIAMS: Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express did exactly what you're suggesting. We did that at the very beginning. I'm not going to edit and preface every sentence I say for the rest of my life, "By the way, we're not racist. By the way, I don't beat my wife."
We are what we are, and when these vile people show up, they find out that we're - we're not a happy home. But as long as they keep turning on the TV -
MARTIN: I'm glad you matured in that.
WILLIAMS: -- and listening to people like you, Roland, saying that that's where they'll find a happy home, they're going to keep showing up.
MARTIN: Actually - actually, you're not going to lie on CNN. I never said that. And I have said -
WILLIAMS: That's what you're saying right now through this entire interview.
MARTIN: No, no, no. Mark, Mark, Mark - let me finish. I have said consistently, the Tea Party people have an absolute right to assemble, to protest, but what I have said, there's no --
MARTIN: -- that movement for racists, and what I said is you should come out and say you're not welcome here. In your own words -
WILLIAMS: The racists have their own movement. It's called the NAACP.
MARTIN: Oh, that's nonsense. But they've done more - they've -
WILLIAMS: A bunch of old fossils looking to make a buck off skin color.
MARTIN: That's nice, Mark. That's nice, Mark. But they've done more to come at (ph) racism than you have ever had, and you can rip them all you want to, but they have a long history of fighting for the rights of all Americans, not just African-Americans.
BLITZER: On that note, Mark, unless you have something for 10 seconds to say (INAUDIBLE).
WILLIAMS: I - I would just like to know - well, you know, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, when they're going to grow up and join the 21st century and realize that this country's got to move forward. We're in serious danger. All of our rights are at risk, not just blacks.
MARTIN: Actually, they're doing that. And if you studied the civil rights movement, it was all about forcing Americans to honor the very constitution you so proudly -
WILLIAMS: And we are now, and the NAACP -
MARTIN: OK, Mark.
WILLIAMS: -- is attacking an organization which is doing exactly what the NAACP had started to do.
MARTIN: Root out the racists. Root out racists.
BLITZER: Roland Martin, Mark Williams. Guys, I know this debate is not going away. Thanks very much for joining us.
WILLIAMS: Thanks, Wolf.
MARTIN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce frustrated, the Obama administration right now on the defensive. Are White House policies hurting big and small business? We're going to hear from both sides of the debate.
BLITZER: Check out President Obama holding a low key meeting with the billionaire Warren Buffett this week. It wasn't on the president's public schedule, but the White House released the photo when it was all over. A senior official tells CNN they discussed the economic crisis and other issues.
This huddle with an investment tycoon coming as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce slammed the president's economic policies. Our Lisa Sylvester has more on that.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): James Wordsworth is your classic small businessman. He runs a Virginia food services company that employs 250 people. But, like others who have gathered here at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's job summit, he says not enough is being done to create jobs in America.
JAMES WORDSWORTH, OWNER, J.R.'S GOOD TIMES, INC.: Why do we keep ignoring this job thing? That - it's not an elephant, it's a herd of elephants in the room, but we keep leaving the room for a coffee break.
SYLVESTER: In a blistering open letter to the president, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce criticizes the administration and Congress for neglecting job growth, saying after preventing another great depression they took their eyes off the ball. The letter says, quote, "They vilified industries while embarking on an ill advised course of government expansion, major tax increases, massive deficits and job destroying regulations."
THOMAS J. DONOHUE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: All of this has injected tremendous uncertainty into our economy, and uncertainty is the enemy of investment, of growth, and of jobs.
SYLVESTER: The White House takes strong exception to that view and has philosophical differences. In an official response to the chamber, senior presidential aides say things are turning around, quote, "Our economy is growing again, and the private sector has added 600,000 new jobs."
The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, says while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be pushing for more deregulation and a cut in business taxes, the Obama administration has been working on policies to help Main Street.
HEATHER BOUSHEY, SENIOR ECONOMIST, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: What they've strove to do is to increase demand, to make it so that more folks have money in their pocket, so that they will be the kind of customers that businesses need in order to thrive and grow.
SYLVESTER: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the White House know the areas where they disagree, but say they are trying to find common ground.
DONOHUE: You know, a lot of people want to start a fight between the business community and the administration. We're not going there. SYLVESTER (on camera): Behind closed doors, there is a real effort to negotiate on issues like extending the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year, and moving forward on trade agreements with other countries.
Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: And joining us now, one of the president's top economic advisors, Austan Goolsbee. Thanks very much, Austan, for coming in.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: Thanks for having me back again, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Mort Zuckerman, who's a very wealthy businessman, he supported the president, voted for Barack Obama. He said this the other day. I'm going to play it for you, because it's pretty shocking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORT ZUCKERMAN, PUBLISHER, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: It is, without question, the most hostile administration to business and to the role of business than we've had in decades.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I'll - I'll repeat it in case you didn't hear exactly what he said. Referring to the Obama administration, "It is without question, the most hostile administration to business and to the role of business that we've had in decades." Coming from Mort Zuckerman, that's pretty shocking.
GOOLSBEE: Yes. Look, I know Mort, and - and he's a friend of mine. I don't agree with him. I think the administration - we've - we've come out of the deepest hole since 1929 and, look, you got to put the fire out and then you got to rebuild the house, and putting the fire out was extremely difficult, and now we're rebuilding the house brick by brick. And the president has said all along that if you spend years getting into this mess, it's not going to be a one-day turn around.
I know people are frustrated, and the president is frustrated most of all, that the unemployment rate is high, that since the recession began in 2007 that we've lost more than 8 million jobs. But what we have to do now is build on the successes we had in stopping the fire, instead of losing 750,000 jobs a month, as we were when he took over, we have been adding private sector jobs.
We need to do more. But the - to say that it's anti-business, I think, is a total misnomer. We're open to ideas from the business community. We have in many areas worked with a lot of people in business and we're going to get on this ground work.
BLITZER: Well, there's - there's this lengthy document - I'm sure you've seen it - from the business round table which represents big business all across the country, and they say in this long, long document that so many of the policies of the Obama administration raised uncertainty. People are - big businesses, small businesses, they're reluctant to invest their money right now because they don't know what you guys have in mind.
Let me read to you from their summary. This report come - came out June 21st. "These actions," referring to the Obama administration actions, "are squelching economic growth and job creation as companies are forced to freeze investments and hiring until they understand how they will be affected by these new mandates," referring to regulations and taxes.
They don't know the answers and, as a result, they're holding their money on the sidelines and they're not creating jobs.
GOOLSBEE: Well, Wolf, look, the president is calling for a small business jobs growth package in which we would set the capital gains rate to zero for anybody that starts a company or invests in a small business. He's calling for massive increases in accelerated depreciation and giving investment incentives for companies to invest in this country. He's trying to do this in a context where many of the countries around the world are in terrible shape and our job market is deeply, deeply troubled from the recession that began years ago.
And so I think it's only fair to say, and - and I am a big fan of the business round table and am in frequent contact with them, as are many members of the administration. We are open to working with the business community in any of these areas. We're trying to find common ground to grow jobs. I think the president's put forward a job growth package, which is needed in this country, and let's move ahead with it.
BLITZER: All right. Well, let's get the issue of taxes right now. Will the Bush tax cuts, the tax cuts that were passed in 2001 and 2003, that cut taxes basically across the board, including for wealthy Americans, including for big business, small business, will they be allowed to lapse next year, as is scheduled, or will they continue?
GOOLSBEE: Well, Wolf, as you know, two things. One, I am - I'm just a policy guy and not a political expert, but, number two, the president has said all along that he would like to extend the tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year and that we should let the tax cuts expire for those making more than that.
And for the people saying well, why don't we extend the tax cuts for very, very high income people, all of the economic evidence suggests that's not a very good stimulus. That trickle down doesn't work when you're trying to restart the economy and prevent a double dip or some deterioration, and that we ought to rather use whatever moneys would be involved in that to pass an outright jobs package like the one that the president is calling for, that would help small business, that would help investment, that would help the unemployed and things like that.
It's a far bigger bang for the buck than giving more tax cuts to high income people.
BLITZER: Because John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, he's echoing some of the concerns of the business community, and - and I'll play a little clip of what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: The American people are continuing to ask the question where are the jobs, and all they're getting out of Washington Democrats is more stimulus spending and more unsustainable federal debt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, you want to look into the camera and respond to John Boehner?
GOOLSBEE: Well, look, I'm not surprised John Boehner is going to criticize what the administration does. As I say, he's filled out his - his critics card before he even saw what the policy was.
The president was out in Michigan yesterday, at a battery factory, and what the president has been trying to do with our stimulus efforts and recovery efforts is leverage public money with private money. $3.50 of private investment came in for every $1 of loan guarantees in these various programs, like at this advanced battery factory the president went to yesterday.
As I say, we're trying to find common ground with the business community. We all agree that what we need to do is rebuild the house and grow. It's got to be built on a solid foundation, not an asset bubble of boom and bust like the last one.
When Warren Buffett was here yesterday, I spoke with him before he talked to the president, and Warren Buffett highlighted that it's not a unanimous business community that they all agree with the Republican talking points or whatever the chamber may be saying. Warren Buffett said as long as you've got the unemployment rate at 9.5 percent, people are not going to be happy, and I think we can all agree on that.
We aren't where we need to be, but we are at least going in the right direction, and we need to carry out the plan and it's going to work.
BLITZER: You've got your work cut out for you.
Austin Goolsbee, thanks for coming in.
GOOLSBEE: Great to see you again, Wolf.
BLITZER: You don't see the words "Made in China" on the bottle, but there's a good chance that that's where your ibuprofen came from. Can you be sure it's safe?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Some disturbing new developments are now emerging concerning popular medications you might be using. Could there be dangerous health risks involved? Our Lisa Sylvester has the story.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): Every time you pop a pill for a headache, there's a good chance the key ingredients came from China. Sixty-one percent of all ibuprofen sold in the U.S. and 94 percent of the tetracycline used in most antibiotics in the United States are made in China according to a recent report by an independent Congressional commission.
MIKE WESSEL, U.S.-CHINA ECONOMIC & SECURITY REVIEW COMMISSION: The regulatory authorities are rife with corruption. The production at local provinces, they're gauged on how well their economy does, not how safe the products are that they supply to us.
SYLVESTER: In 2008, 81 Americans were killed after given a tainted blood thinning medicine called heparin that came from China. Colleen Hubley says her husband was one of them.
COLLEEN HUBLEY, WIDOW: I watched my husband and my best friend slip away before my eyes.
SYLVESTER: Two years later, what's changed? Very little. In recent Congressional testimony, the FDA admitted it does not have adequate resources to prevent another heparin crisis. It doesn't have the ability to control the safety of imported pharmaceuticals and it doesn't have adequate authority to keep out unsafe drug shipments at the border.
WESSEL: Because of the risks in the system, it's really a ticking time bomb.
SYLVESTER: U.S. drug factories are rigorously inspected by the FDA. But the same is not true in China where there are language barriers and lax quality standards.
The report found from 2002 to 2006, an average of only 15 of the 714 drug factories that shipped to the U.S. were actually inspected by the FDA. And the ones that were received advanced notice that inspectors were coming.
JOSHUA SHARFSTEIN, FDA PRINCIPAL DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: These foreign inspectors are challenging and expensive, and ultimately we do need to do more of them and, in fact, the numbers are going up but not, you know, we're not going to be able to get to every plant every year.
SYLVESTER: The FDA is working on a system where countries like Australia and those in the European Union share inspection information since they say it's impossible for one country to do it alone. The FDA has added two regional offices in China and new ones in five other countries.
But part of the problem is the FDA lax in key authority. It can't force a recall of pharmaceutical drugs. And even if they catch tainted drugs at the border, they can't seize or impound or destroy the drugs. So ultimately it falls on the U.S. drug company to be the last resort. PhRMA, which represents the large American drug firms say they follow good manufacturing practices.
LORI REILLY, V.P., POLICY AND RESEARCH, PHRMA: They're required to test the products that they receive be it from China or anywhere else, both before they put them in their product as well as during and after.
SYLVESTER: That system relies on U.S. manufacturers to catch problems. Most of the time they do, but heparin slipped through the cracks and the results were deadly.
SYLVESTER (on camera): In the case of heparin, that is a case that has never been solved. U.s. investigators know someone deliberately tainted the heparin. But who were the individuals responsible, how they did it, we still don't know.
Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: Beating the summer hear, standby for some cool "Hot Shots".
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this week's "Hot Shots".
In Rome, two boys cool off in a fountain as Italy is hit by high temperature.
In India, students form a shape of a new symbol for their currency, the Rupee.
In Paris, workers are recreating a beach on the bank of the Seine River.
And in Taiwan, check it out. Dogs dressed as a wedding couple pose during a pet show.
Some of the week's "Hot Shots", pictures are worth a thousand words.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. Eastern and every Saturday at 6:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN. And at this time every weekend on CNN International.
The news continues next on CNN.